First of all Nicola welcome back! It’ s been a while since you visited last time (HERE). It’s a great pleasure to have you as my guest again. Now, here’ s my first question for you.
Thank you so much! It’s lovely to be here.
Your novel tells the story of three women connected to Ashdown House in Oxfordshire where you volunteer as a guide and local historian. What is it like to work in such an amazing place?
Right from the start, Ashdown enchanted me. There’s something about the place that grabs you and doesn’t let you go. All my fellow volunteers say the same. Perhaps it’s the combination of the sheer beauty of the house and the fascinating story of the family who owned it – a rags to riches story of fortune and passion and scandal. It inspires me every time I step over the threshold and it feels sich a huge privilege to be allowed to work there.
How crucial was your work at Ashdown House in your decision to write House of Shadows?
Can you briefly introduce the 3 protagonists of your book?
I’ve known for several years that I wanted to write a fictional story inspired by Ashdown and its history so it was absolutely crucial to House of Shadows. The story of Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen, is a usually portrayed as a sad one because she lost her kingdom and was forced into exile, but there is so much more to Elizabeth as a person and I wanted to demonstrate her strength and the way she still campaigned for her children’s future after her husband died. Then there is Lavinia, the 19th century courtesan whose story is inspired by that of another Craven connection, Harriette Wilson who was the mistress of the 7th Lord Craven. In the present day, Holly is desperately trying to find her brother, and she is the one who unravels both Elizabeth and Lavinia’s story and sees the destiny that binds them together across the centuries.